Day 19

Back Home Up

Monday, June 7—Yokohama/USA

As Advertised: Following breakfast, depart for Narita and Haneda Airports. I do not have school until 10:30, so I can join you for breakfast and accompany you to the airport bus terminal if you have morning flights.

The longest day of all! I got up at 6:15 a.m. When I finally fell in bed in Fairhope at 1:30 a.m. on June 8, it was 3:30 p.m. Tokyo time, so over 33 hours had elapsed.

About our departure, Glenn had written (in “Four Perfect Days in Yokohama”):

Leaving Yokohama (but not forever): On Monday, June 7, all of you but Dad will be going to an airport. Tom and Joan will go to Haneda Airport to catch a flight to Asahikawa in Hokkaido, while the rest of you [Sam, Debby, and Christopher; Barney, Matthew, and I] will fly back to the U.S. In all cases, you just need to take a taxi from the Novotel to the Yokohama City Air Terminal (YCAT, pronounced Y-CAT) near Yokohama station, costing about ¥1500 per taxi. Buses to Narita leave every 20 minutes and take about 90–100 minutes to arrive, costing about ¥3500 per person. You need to check in two hours before your scheduled flight time, so you need to get on a YCAT bus at least three and a half hours before you fly. Haneda is closer and cheaper: buses leave every 7–10 minutes, take 20–25 minutes, and cost about ¥560 per person. Once you arrive at the airport, everything will be familiar, as airports around the world all look the same. We hope your last thought as you leave Yokohama will be that four days were not enough (no matter how perfect) and that you'll want to return soon!

We weren’t scheduled to leave Narita till 4:10 p.m., so we planned to leave the Novotel about noon, leaving the morning free to pack and do last-minute things. When we got up it was still rainy and very foggy, and we got a slower start than planned. Glenn had arranged to have breakfast with Tom and Joan (who had an earlier flight) at 7 and the rest of us at 8, but when we went downstairs at 8, we found Sam and Debby returning with Tom and Joan and Glenn, and Glenn wanted to hang around the hotel until Tom and Joan were safely away for Haneda. Meanwhile, he helped us get our flights reconfirmed, and we finally got away to Denny’s (where else?) about 8:30. We had a good breakfast, made our goodbyes, and returned to the room to pack.

By the time we had finished packing, it had turned sunny and steamy. I went out to grab a few last shots in the park, capturing these photos of the Guardian of Water fountain in daylight:

I also took this picture of the arbor in the center of the park:

This photo of the entrance to the Novotel was one of several shots (another of which appears on the Accommodations page):

We were all ready to leave by 11:30, so we went ahead—a good thing, as it turned out, since we needed three taxis (for six people and their luggage), and it took a while to get them all loaded. I was fascinated by the GPS display in the cab but frustrated by my total inability to follow our route on my map. Since I couldn’t figure out where we were, our arrival at YCAT came as a surprise to me.

The entrance where the taxi drivers dropped us off led into the typical cluster of shops that fill all Japanese transportation terminals, so we were momentarily disoriented and not at all sure we were in the right place. If we had just walked a bit farther, we would have come to the ticket counter, but we enlisted the help of a Japanese women who spoke excellent English, and she directed us around the next corner to where it was located.

Our timing was lucky, as we were able to board the 12:20 bus immediately. The bus was very comfortable, and we thoroughly enjoyed the scenic 90-minute drive to Narita. We arrived in plenty of time to check in and persuade the United clerk to check our baggage all the way through to Pensacola (even though the flights from San Francisco to Dallas and Dallas to Pensacola were on Delta).

Ironically, during our last hours in Japan, I was finally able to find, at the airport bookstore, the book I had sought in vain earlier: the Point-and-Speak Phrasebook described on the Language page.

We also had time to have lunch at Café Croissant, after which we hastened to our departure gate. I would have liked to  get my remaining yen changed back to dollars, but Barney didn’t think we could spare the time; as it turned out, we waited interminably to board our plane.

The flight to San Francisco was both endless and fleeting, its tedium assuring that it left an evanescent impression on my memory. If I hadn’t neglected to put my inflatable neck pillow in my carryon, I might at least have been able to sleep through the brief and precocious night; as it was, I tried not to watch too much of Calendar Girls, the in-flight movie, which my seatmate was enjoying uproariously: I wanted to wait and see it under more favorable circumstances (which I later did).

We arrived in SFO at 9:15 a.m. (11:15 p.m. Tokyo time) with four hours to kill, but much of that was consumed by Immigration and Customs. We rechecked our bags and checked in for our Delta flight, then settled in for the long wait (aided by sandwiches from an airport restaurant).

The flight to DFW was uneventful (I’d retrieved the neck pillow from my bag during the shuffle, so at least I got some sleep), and our connection to the PNS flight was smooth (even had time to get a yogurt parfait). We arrived in Pensacola on time, only to learn that, despite the generous layover in SFO, United had managed to get only two-thirds of our bags transferred. Still, with or without my train case, it was very good to get home and, when we recovered from our exhaustion, to begin to reflect on our unforgettable two weeks in Japan.